February 12, 2017
This is part of the Ready NWI and First Job series — an initiative of the Youth Employment Council of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board. The series reviews the story behind some of Region leaders’ and residents’ first jobs.
Brian Snedecor is the Mayor of Hobart.
What was your first job?
I was a stock boy for Alexis Jewelry store. I was 14 or 15 at the time and got there by walking, riding my bike or getting a ride from my parents. I worked there for one or two years. In addition to re-stocking items, I cleaned the floor and windows, decorated the display window and emptied the garbage. As I played football at Lew Wallace, the owners accommodated my hours so I could attend practice and our games.
Did you enjoy the work?
I did. Although I did not sell jewelry, it was a chance to meet people. It was a great learning experience. The storeowners taught me to treat customers with the utmost respect. I served 27 years on the Hobart police department and I had to deal with some people who did very bad things. And while I may not have agreed with what they did, I still treated them respectfully.
What other jobs did you have as a teenager?
I shoveled snow off the sidewalks at the Village Shopping Center. That was quite a job, as many times we worked 6 to 8 hours overnight in order to get the place ready for customers the next day. During my senior year, I worked at the JCPenney auto center on U.S. 30.
What did you do with your earnings?
My dad encouraged me to give 10 percent of my earnings to our church. We were taught that tithing was something you should do. I also enjoyed going to the Varsity Shop and buying a pair of Levi jeans or going to Mike’s Sporting Goods and purchasing a pair of high top Converse gym shoes.
Did you make any serious mistakes at the jewelry store?
My carelessness set off the burglar alarm. The store’s display window was lined with silver foil tape that would trigger the alarm if thieves broke the window. As I was cleaning the window, I was a little too aggressive in my efforts and I damaged that tape. That evening, the alarm went off and the store’s owners had to get out of bed and reset the alarm. I thought I would be fired over this incident—I wasn’t—but I was much more careful in my work.
What advice do you have for a young person about to start their first job?
First, set your goals. Second, think about your actions and behavior, and how they will affect you later in life. Understand that there will be bumps in the road but don’t lose faith. Sometimes setbacks are a character building moment; sometimes these incidents are preparing you for even tougher decisions in life. Don’t give up. Stay true to what you want to achieve in life.
What advice do you have for employers that hire youth?
I would encourage employers to give young people a chance. Sometimes you have to take a risk on a young person who has had a setback in their life and needs a little shot of confidence. Many times the City of Hobart employs young people in temporary or part time positions as we try to learn more about the individual and his or her work habits. A resume only provides you a little hint of the applicant’s abilities. An interview will provide additional information about a person’s interests and previous work experience.
The READY NWI partnership supports the unique aspects of community, school, and student, and embraces a commitment to regional thinking and acting in order to ensure prosperity by meeting the skill and education needs of employers throughout Northwest Indiana.